June 5, 2019 | Bringing It #17: Kudos and Two Calls

Dear friends,

In this number of Bringing It, we begin and end with two “asks”: a call for participation aimed at educators from two- and four-year institutions and an invitation to write aimed at students.  And in between, we salute the leadership of our colleagues at George Mason University for their work on student and campus well-being. Enjoy.

Call to Participate: A New Initiative on Two-Year, Four-Year Partnerships

If you’re at a community college partnering (or interested in partnering) with a private four-year institution, or a four-year college or university partnering (or interested in partnering) with a community college, we’ve got a proposition for you.

As you know, BTtoP believes that educational change happens through academic collaboration.  Colleges and universities seem to inhabit stand-alone campus worlds, but they’re most creative and effective when they work together. And partnerships between community colleges and four-year institutions are especially important these days.

It’s easy to see why. More and more students—facing challenges of tuition and debt—are starting college at two-year institutions. Four out of five community college students hope to go on to a bachelor’s degree; but fewer than a quarter reach their goal. As higher ed aims to grow degree attainment, many state systems and research initiatives like the Transfer Playbook are working to remove the barriers to transfer with more efficient and welcoming pathways.

Which got us thinking: how might BTtoP further collaboration between two- and four-year institutions? Not through the mechanisms of transfer, such as aligning specific departmental prerequisites or minimizing credit-loss: others are better equipped for such crucial work. But we can work with educators from both sectors to ensure that holistic, transformative learning—the heart of BTtoP’s mission—spans the transfer seam.

Bringing Theory to Practice is exploring the launch of a “Collaboratory” of two-year, four-year partnerships to develop curricular and pedagogical models for active, integrative, engaged learning across the transfer seam. We’re interested in issues like the co-design of integrative, first-year experiences, the aligning of high-impact practices like community-based learning, and shared models of inclusive pedagogy. We’re especially interested in fostering partnerships between community colleges and private four-year institutions.

If you’re intrigued to help develop a network of two-year, four-year partnerships around transformative pedagogy and curriculum design, reach out to David (scobey@bttop.org).

What We’re Learning From Our Partners: George Mason University

We want to honor the work of our friends at George Mason University in making Mason a national leader on student and campus well-being. Much of that work is led by Mason’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being (CWB), now a decade old. CWB’s vision of well-being is as eloquent as it is concise—“a life of vitality, purpose, resilience, and engagement”—and the Center works across the university to foster research, teaching, and health and social practices that advance that vision.  University leaders have made the goal of becoming a “Well-Being University” a core element of their strategic plan, and the curriculum now includes a Minor in Well-Being.  To learn more about these commitments, click on the below video.

Like BTtoP, George Mason has also focused on the interconnection between well-being and educational equity—or “inclusive equity,” as they call it.  In April 2018, Mason held its first Diversity, Inclusion, and Well-Being Summit, followed by a mini-retreat in January 2019. To learn more about this new phase of work, please visit here. We are excited to learn from Mason as we work to place equity at the heart of the well-being agenda and well-being at the heart of the equity agenda.

Call for Student Authors for BTtoP Newsletter

As you may remember from past numbers of Bringing It, especially Caitlin’s comments in our post-AAC&U Annual Meeting Reflections, we’re committed to lifting student voice up through our work, so that we are not only talking about students, but actively involving them as leaders and changemakers. We’ve begun to address this: last winter’s issue of our newsletter introduced an additional column, the Student Perspective, which will be a regular feature.

Our Fall 2019 Newsletter will focus on the role of institutional collaboration and community-building in fostering educational change. We want to include student perspectives on this theme—for instance, through stories of inter-campus activism or student participation in collaborative communities that reach across traditional academic silos. If you are a student, or you know a student who would be interested in contributing a 600-800 word piece for this issue, then we would love to hear from you. You can email Caitlin at salins@bttop.org.

And if you have other ideas about how we can continue scaffolding student voice into BTtoP’s work and mission, please contact us with your thoughts.

We hope that, wherever you are, spring has begun to segue into summer for you. We hope you have time to rest, breathe, and renew yourselves.  Thank you for the work you do.

Caitlin, Mercedes, and David